Fiedler's Contingency Theory of Leadership

Fiedler’s Contingency Theory of Leadership

Fiedler’s Contingency Theory of Leadership

Fred E. Fiedler developed the first contingency model in 1967. Fiedler and his associates made extensive research for more than thirty years and developed a theory called Fiedler’s Contingency Theory. The contingency theory of leadership is one of the situational approaches to leadership.

Fielder proposed that effective group performance depends on the proper match between the leader’s style of interacting with his followers and the degree to which the situation allowed the leader to control and influence. He distinguished two leader personalities which are task-oriented leaders and human relations-oriented leaders.

Fielder in his contingency theory of leadership, suggests that the best leadership style depends upon the level of situational control, that is, the degree of power and influence that the leader posses in a particular situation.

According to Fielder, situational control is affected by three factors in the following order of importance, leader-member relations, task structure, and position power. A brief explanation of these factors are as follows:

  • Leader-Member Relations – Leader-member relation is the degree to which employees trust and respect the leader and are willing to follow his guidance. A leader can be more effective if he is trusted and liked by followers and if they are willing to accept his influence.
  • Task Structure – Task structure refers to the extent of clarity standardization or ambiguity in the work activities assigned to the group. If the task is clear and routine, group members can be easily held responsible for performance. A low-task structure describes an ambiguous situation with changing circumstances and unpredictable events.
  • Position Power – Position power is the extent to which a leader possesses legitimate, rewarding, and coercive power over subordinates. A situation with high position power lets the leader hire people and directly reward or punish behavior. A leader with less power can not take such actions.

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